Flight Centre's Top 10 for 2015

2 December 2014
Read Time: 4.8 mins

From Barcelona to Tokyo, 2015 looks like a mixed bag of treats for travellers.

Vanuatu, Gili Islands, Boracay and Honolulu are all tipped to be high up on the travel to-do-list while the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli Landing is set to see sales in trips to Turkey rise.

Flight Centre has issued its roundup of the 10 most popular hotspots for 2015. The list, created by Flight Centre’s team of experts, is compiled based on booking data over the past three years as well as key factors such as what its customers are enquiring about and what the travel industry is offering next year.

 Dance the night away in Japan

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Tokyo

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Thanks to the rise of Japan's affordable ski holidays and convenient stopover options on the way to Europe via Japan Airlines, Flight Centre has seen an 82% increase over  the past three years in bookings to Tokyo.

Ski fans can bypass the most expensive ski hubs in Europe for Hakuba or Niesko up in the north while also experiencing the fun, kooky and completely out there culture of Tokyo on the way.

Some will get a real kick out of the new rooms at Keio Plaza Hotel. Opened in late 2014, the furniture and room interiors feature the international renowned Japanese character, Hello Kitty.

Japan also recently overturned a 66-year-old law which banned dancing after midnight in Tokyo nightclubs. Travellers can now party on in the early hours of the morning with the change brought in as part of reforms in the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

 Discover colourful Barcelona

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Barcelona

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The capital of Catalonia, Barcelona continues to shine as a sun-drenched jewel of the Mediterranean. Over the past three years, Flight Centre has seen a 45% increase in bookings to the city.

Key to its growing popularity is its lively blend of fashion, culture and whimsical architecture, dominated by the works of Gaudi. Spain’s second largest city is also a booming cruise port, which is ideally located for passengers close to Barcelona’s most famous boulevard, Las Ramblas.

In terms of accommodation, travellers have a lot of flexibility with the recently refurbished Citadines Prestige Apartments an ideal option for those looking to do their own catering within a short walk to the fabulous food markets of La Boqueria. If a beachfront hotel is more appealing than you can’t go past the W Barcelona with its modern avant-garde style and spectacular panoramic views.

 Soak up the sun in Boracay

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Boracay

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For that Bora Bora vibe without the price tag, holidaying in the Philippines is an attractive option for both thrill seekers and beach goers alike.

Whether you choose main city Manila, idyllic Boracay or explore one or more of the other 7000  islands, the Philippines is home to clear waters, white sandy beaches, some of the best bargain luxury shopping in the world and a host of adrenalin-fuelled activities.

Flight Centre anticipates a surge in bookings to the Philippines in 2015 thanks to budget carrier Cebu Pacific Air starting a new four times weekly service departing Sydney. This will definitely open up affordable flight pricing.

Couple this with a great exchange rate, a unique array of fun activities and you have the perfect year-round tropical getaway to rival Bali, Phuket and dare we say, even Bora Bora.

 Aloha Honolulu!

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Honolulu

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Flight Centre noted a 40% increase over three years in family bookings to Honolulu,  indicating the growing popularity and affordability of family holidays in Hawaii.

Proving that price and convenience are important drivers of demand, in recent years both Jetstar and Hawaiian Airlines have been expanding their offerings between Australia and Hawaii, which has lead to some highly attractive pricing.

Flight Centre also recently reported that Hawaii is one of the best value destinations for travellers looking to upgrade their flights from Australia's east coast.

Flight Centre research highlighted that while the cheapest international business class fare typically costs three to four times the cheapest economy fare, an upgrade can cost less than double for travellers flying to Hawaii from Brisbane.

 Pay tribute in Gallipoli

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Gallipoli

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2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings.  Despite the Anzac Cove Dawn Service in Gallipoli being completely sold out, Flight Centre anticipates many travellers will still flock to the Turkish surrounds to commemorate this historical milestone and explore further afield.

Many tour operators are still accommodating those who want to pay tribute via a number of options and of course, whether you choose to stroll the bazaars of Istanbul, cruise the Mediterranean or fly over Cappadocia in a hot air balloon, there's something for everyone in Turkey.

 London's calling for 2015

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London

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London has  always been a favourite with Aussie travellers and the appeal will be enhanced next year by the Rugby World Cup, which follows the peak summer touring season. Even though the event is still 10 months away, World Cup packages are already selling well.

London is consistently one of Flight Centre's top five selling destinations for Aussie travellers, but the Olympics created even stronger demand in 2012 and it looks like Rugby World Cup fever is set to put London on an even taller pedestal.

 Lovely Vanuatu is perfect for family fun

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Vanuatu

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Flight Centre has seen a 34% increase in family bookings to Vanuatu over the past 3 years, signalling its practicality for families with children who don't want to give up on the dream of an overseas island getaway.

Vanuatu has a diverse offering of island experiences and some of the most authentic cultural experiences in the South Pacific.

The island is also great for those who enjoy being a bit more adventurous.  Vanuatu is home to one of the world's most accessible active volcanoes, Mt Yasur, where you can stand on the rim and look into the bubbling lava below. You can also snorkel at the underwater post office at Hideaway Island, river kayak, take a buggy tour to the famous Mele Cascades Waterfalls and dive for ship wrecks with the world's largest wreck, SS President Coolidge, in Vanuatu waters.

 Get off the beaten track on the Gili Islands

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Gili Islands

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Aussies have been flocking to Bali for years but the little known Gili Islands are starting to establish a following with those who want to escape the crowds (of other Aussies) for an old school laid-back beach vibe in an unspoilt paradise.

The islands (there's three) have gained in recognition and popularity in recent years but growth to the region has been tracking at a 56% increase in the last 12 months.

Flight Centre attributes the growth in large part to the opening of the Lombok International Airport – the transit to get to the Gili Islands – which is receiving direct flights from Perth and enticing more interest in both Lombok and the Gilis as an alternative destination to Bali.

The past 12 months has seen the development of four-star hotels at Sunset Beach, a quieter part of the island proving popular with couples and families. Flight Centre has also noticed a rise in travellers booking a ‘bundled’ holiday package to Bali and the Gili’s or Lombok... the perfect holiday for the best of both worlds.

 Sun and sand aplenty in Palm Cove

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Palm Cove

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This seaside town 27kms north of Cairns offers the best of both worlds - you don't need to fight for towel space on the beach but you have an esplanade full of restaurants to choose from.

With just a row of palm trees separating you from the sand, Palm Cove is the perfect place for travellers looking for a more intimate seaside escape and its calm beaches make it perfect for small children.

Consistent, cheap flights to Cairns and a balmy year-round climate also add to the attraction.

SilkAir begins a new scheduled service to Cairns from Singapore in May 2015 and China Eastern has extended seasonal services for 2015.  There are also new regular express public bus services between Palm Cove and Cairns City day and night operating mostly on the half hour.

 Get active in Santiago

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Santiago

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Marked as 'up and coming', the Chilean capital of Santiago doesn't exude the same party vibe of Rio or Buenos Aires but it certainly has more to offer than just a stop off on the way to Patagonia or the Atacama.

Flight Centre has seen a steady 16% increase in bookings over the past 3 years,  particularly with the family segment, showcasing Santiago's popularity as a crowd-pleaser for the whole family over the carnival vibe of Rio.

With the Andes to the east and Pacific to the west, you can hike and swim in the same day when Santiago is your base. Walking and exercise aside, Santiago is also a hub for museums, theatres, and a flourishing arts scene.

Kellie Carty

If you're a travel writer, journalist, reporter or freelance travel writer, with a media enquiry relating to Flight Centre, please don't hesitate to send me an email. I'd be happy to help with any travel-related questions or put you in touch with the right people. You can reach me at media@flightcentre.com.au